Tattoos are everything that the pandemic is not; they are permanent, unchanging, and perhaps most importantly, they are your choice.

Post-pandemic, people are booking tattoo appointments in hopes of regaining control of their life and their bodies. After a year of quarantine, appointments are surging, tattoo shops are back open, and business is booming. With the revolution of the “remote office,” workplace culture around appearance and body art is also shifting. Tattoos are becoming less stigmatized for professionals.

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We spoke to two tattoo artists, Tyler Williams an artist at Gypsy Hill Tattoo in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Trevor Armstrong (TJ) an artist at Fury 13 Tattoo in Alexandria, Virginia, to get the scoop on what’s trending for Gen-Z and the kind of tattoos we’ll be seeing more of this year.

Tattooing post-pandemic

From Tyler’s perspective, tattoo as an art form has drastically advanced in the last year. “Tattooing has made incredible jumps in terms of technicality during the pandemic,” he says. “I think artists who were shut down for a while really took it to heart to try and dissect what it takes to set their art apart.”

Quarantine was a time of reflection and growth for many. TJ is happy to be back in the shop because a lot of his clients “wanted to get ink so badly that they were willing to pay me to do house visits during quarantine.” TJ did not want to risk it during the height of the pandemic but has eagerly welcomed these clients back now that it is safe. TJ says that he has noticed an influx of people wanting random tattoos with no specific meaning – just for fun.

Below, here are five tatttoo trends Tyler and TJ say are exploding in 2021.

1. Minimalist line art

Minimalist-style linework tattoos are gaining popularity. People want simple, timeless tattoos that don’t feature any colors or complicated designs. These pieces are abstract and can wind all the way up to your leg or be as simple as a small ribcage piece.

2. Tiny doodles

If you’ve ever given yourself a patchy stick-and-poke tattoo at home, you’re in luck because tiny, doodle-style tattoos are in. As more people choose to get tattooed, not everyone is ready for a big, visible piece. Professionally done, hand-poked tattoos are a great option for a discreet piece. Keep in mind these types of tattoos do need to be touched up more often.

Tyler has seen this with his appointment requests. “I think tiny, oddly placed tattoos have become a trending thing recently too, so trying to find those who want bigger unique pieces is more of a hunt than before, in my opinion.”

3. Sticker sleeves

As people start to acquire a lot of these smaller tattoos, patchwork-style tattooing is becoming popular. Instead of a traditional sleeve, a lot of people are slowly adding to collections of smaller pieces to create a “sticker sleeve.” These types of tattoo collections are playful and don’t require you to commit to a sleeve all at once.

4. Fine line, but large scale

Now, it’s time to think big. While sitting at home, people have had a lot of time to consider if they wanted that large-scale detailed hip, arm, or thigh piece… and a lot of people are going for it with lots of fine lines and details. It’s beautiful, bold, and so worth the money.

5. Meaningful and healing

Many are turning to tattoos to honor all of the trauma, social change, and mental health struggles they’ve faced in the last year. People are getting tattoos to remind themselves to keep pushing forward, whether this is largely on a social or personal scale.


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